British No 1 Johanna Konta will aim for upturn in form as she defends Miami Open title
Serena Williams will meet BNP Paribas Open champion Naomi Osaka in a blockbuster first-round match at the Miami Open, where Johanna Konta is the defending champion.
The American eight-time champion wildcard entrant made her return to the WTA Tour at last week’s tournament in Indian Wells before a third-round exit to sister Venus, and will face the in-form Japanese player at Crandon Park.
Osaka defeated fellow 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina in Sunday’s final to capture the biggest title of her career but faces a stern test as she bids to build on her momentum, which began with a run to the Australian Open fourth round.
The path through the draw for both does not get any easier with fourth seed Elina Svitolina, one of 32 seeds with a bye in the opening round, waiting in the second round.
Konta, the 11th seed, will open her campaign in Florida in the second round against the winner of the meeting between Kirsten Flipkens and Mihaela Buzarnescu.
The British No 1 has won only eight matches since her run to the Wimbledon semi-finals last year but will hope the positive memories from her title-winning run can bring about a strong defence.
Heather Watson will hope to earn her first victory against unseeded Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in their first-round encounter. Fellow British players Naomi Broady and Katie Boulter are both in the qualifying draw.
Simona Halep and third seed Garbine Muguruza are projected semi-finalists from the top half of the draw while 2017 runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, the Australian Open champion, and Svitolina headline the bottom half.
The Romanian world No 1 will face Veronica Cepede Royg or a qualifier while Muguruza will meet China’s Wang Qiang and American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who received a wildcard after the 16-year-old reached the BNP Paribas Open fourth round.
Wozniacki will hope to go one step better than last year and her challenge will begin against former US Open winner Sam Stosur or Olympic gold medallist from Rio Monica Puig.
Three-time Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka will face the American teenager CiCI Bellis while Bethanie Mattek-Sands, one of eight wildcard recipients, makes her return from a serious knee injury against Alize Cornet in their opening round meeting.
Source: Sky Sports